Published On: Wed, Mar 12th, 2014

PSD requests higher Snowshoe sewage rates

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The $27 million Snowshoe area sewage plant will be equipped with a membrane bioreactor, similar to the one shown, which produces very clean effluent water.

The $27 million Snowshoe area sewage plant will be equipped with a membrane bioreactor, similar to the one shown, which produces very clean effluent water. Photo courtesy Kubota Inc.

Sewage rates in the Snowhoe area are projected to skyrocket so high – they’ll be the highest in the state for a public service district.

Along with an application to the West Virginia Public Service Commission (PSC) to build a new sewage plant, the Pocahontas Public Service District (PSD) requested approval from the West Virginia Public Service Commission (PSC) for a new rate structure. The request, filed with the PSC on February 28, asks for a basic rate increase from $33 per month to $71.28 per month – an increase of 116 percent.

The basic rate is for residential units up to two bedrooms at Snowshoe, Silver Creek and Silver Creek Lodge. If approved, the sewage rate for a six-bedroom unit in those areas will increase from $70 to $151.20 per month. The basic rate in other areas would increase to $53.46 per month, although other areas are billed quarterly. Interim rates, higher than those cited as the current base rate in the PSD filing, have been in effect for about two years.

According to the PSC website, the highest basic rate currently paid by a public service district sewage customer in West Virginia is $61.52, at the Jefferson County Public Service District. The requested Pocahontas PSD rate will exceed that amount by almost $10, giving the Snowshoe area the highest PSD rate in the state.

If the rate increase is approved, only three West Virginia sewage utilities will be more expensive than Snowshoe – two of which are privately owned. The Town of Handley currently charges a basic rate of $74.72. Two private entities, Timberline Four Seasons and Alpine Lake, charge $79.76 and $83.84, respectively.

The total estimated cost of the Snowshoe area sewage project is more than $27 million. A state-provided 40-year loan, at one-percent interest, is expected to pay for the project, although the PSD has requested zero-interest alternatives. The annual operation and main- tenance cost of the facility is expected to be $1.26 million.

On March 4, the PSC ordered the Pocahontas PSD to notify all of its customers of the requested rate increase via mail and newspaper publication within 30 days. The order states that the PSC may waive a formal hearing on the rates “in the absence of substantial protest” within the 30-day period.

Details on the rate increase can be requested by calling the PSD at 304-456-3127. The PSC mailing address is West Virginia Public Service Commission, 201 Brooks St., Charleston, WV, 25301.

Future editions of The Pocahontas Times will cover the reaction of affected residents to the proposed rate increase.

Geoff Hamill may be contacted at gshamill@pocahontastimes.com

About the Author

- Geoff Hamill can be contacted at gshamill@pocahontastimes.com